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Monday, June 12, 2017

They are Sending Cayden Home

Cayden's mission president called us yesterday morning to tell us that he feels it is time for Cayden to come home. His health is to a point where it is not getting better and he needs to come home to get the best care. We have not shared everything in his weekly letters but he has had excruciating stomach pains that only rarely let up and each day is filled with frequent trips to the bathroom (there aren't a lot of those available in Zimbabwe)

We spoke with his mission president at length. President Mkhabela is an amazing man with a great love for his missionaries. He said this about the 8 months Cayden served in Zimbabwe: 
"Cayden is the most courageous person I have ever met. He has dealt with immense pain over the last several months but it has not impacted his work. He has accomplished more as a missionary in the short time he has been here than most missionaries in two years."

We then talked to Cayden for quite some time.  He had already met with President Mkhabela and knew that he was being sent home.  We made sure he knows he has our full support and that he has NOT let anybody down.  President Mkhabela assured us that according to the Lord Cayden has served a full time mission. After talking with Cayden at length it is clear that he feels the same.  Cayden said he had been praying over the past few weeks that he would feel good about whatever decision his mission president made. He said he feels like the Lord prepared him for what was coming and he is just so tired of being in constant pain.

From Cayden Today:
 "I truly have grown a deep love of family and for the Lord. I am excited to be going home, and I know it is time. I will be strong in faith and try my best to always be happy😊 I am not gonna write a weekly for this week, just because of the things that have gone on. I am so excited to see the family, and have taken a ton of pictures that I will just share when I return home. I love you all. I am so so so thankful for the support I have received and the love I have been shown. Before you know it I will be home once again. Love you all, Elder Cazier"

Message between Me and Cayden:

A letter to us from his Companion Elder Cameron Condie:

If anyone gives him flak....

 My name is Elder Condie. I'm serving in the Zimbabwe Harare mission, and for the past two and a half months I have had the blessing of serving along side Elder Cayden Cazier.

 From the time of our childhood, we young men in the church are pelted with a barrage of counsel, direction, and guidance from leaders, parents, and friends about the importance of serving an honorable full time mission. We sing songs in primary like, "I hope they call me on a mission," "I want to be a missionary now," and, "We'll bring the world his truth," and participate in Sunday school, Priesthood, and Mission preparation lessons all centered around the message of honorable missionary service.

 With unrestrained zeal and determination flowing through our bodies, we set off into the world. Dreams of contacting thousands and baptizing hundreds fill the minds of every new Elder or Sister, and for many, the first 3 weeks of the MTC bring the anxiety to get into the field to an almost unbearable level.

 Then something interesting happens.

 Reality kicks in.

 The cushy, relatively safe environment of the MTC is ripped away, and missionaries are thrown headfirst into a strange, brutal, harsh new life. Rules are strict, companions are obnoxious, schedules are tight, food is bad, living conditions are rough, bugs are atrocious, new illnesses catch hold, and initially..... We grin and bear it. We bite the bullet and get to work.

 But slowly, things begin to change.

 For many, exact obedience is the first thing to go. Missionary life is tough, and in order to cope with such demanding expectations, some Elders and Sisters drop their standards.

 "Eh... I'll just sleep in a little bit. No big deal."


 "So we don't leave for the area until 2 or 3. Worse things could happen."

 As the months drag on, and things don't seem to improve, other things start to slip on the list of priorities.

 Eventually, some of these Elders or Sisters will obtain one of two titles.

 1. Tired Missionary
2. Dead Missionary

 Tired usually refers to someone that wasted all of their energy in the initial 6-12 month sprint, and now runs the race in a pitiful half effort stupor.

 Dead missionaries.... They've just laid down on the track and have no motivation to get back up again. They're a barrier and a burden to those who are still putting in their best effort.

 In this church (especially in Utah) there is a certain level of unnecessary judgement, ridicule, and shame directed at those who, for one reason or another, are forced to return home early from their missions. The reasons behind the return are diverse, and range in anything from depression, to unworthiness, to homesickness, to disease, to same sex attraction. Regardless of the circumstances behind the return, a destructive mindset is often found lurking within the walls of the local ward. A mindset that peeks its ugly head out of its hiding place with comments like:

 "Oh... they didn't have enough faith to stay out on their mission." "Hmmm... "MEDICAL REASONS." RIIIIIGHT." or the more self righteous, "I stayed on my mission, and my sickness was WAAAY worse. I don't know what he's complaining about."

 The tragic thing about these comments is the sources from which they stem. These aren't apostate non-believers or peanut gallery outsiders we're talking about, rather, we refer to tithe paying, covenant keeping, temple attending members of a church which professes to follow Jesus Christ. I have witnessed bishops, stake presidents, young men and young women leaders, parents, siblings, and friends react, in this moment of needed love and support, not with love or understanding, but with judgement and disdain. There are many young women that have dreams of marrying a, *airquotes* Return Missionary *airquotes*.

 When they learn a young man returned home early from his mission, honorable release notwithstanding, the responses I've heard aren't much better.

 "Sorry, I'm looking to marry someone with a little more faith..." Elder Cazier is coming home early for medical reasons. For the last 2 months I have watched him fight and work and struggle through debilitating stomach pain. He has borne his trial with patience and humility, doing his best never to complain or let the pain impact his work. He has "endured to the end" and I have watched him struggle and wrestle and pray and fast about the decision to return home early. He hasn't looked for an easy way out of a hard thing, he's looked for the Lord's will and has prayed for the strength to accept it. He has worked his hardest, and is returning home with no wasted effort, having had neither of the afore mentioned titles defile his name. If you're doubtful... take my word for it. It's for serious medical problems, and that's it.

 He has served honorably. The Lord just has different plans for him right now.

 In short... If you're judging a missionary that has returned home early (I've done it too... I know it's hard not to)

 Just stop it.

 I'm grateful for the chance I've had to get to know this awesome Elder. He's changed my mission more than he knows. I wish him the best...
 -Elder Condie

From Amy:
Thank you everyone for your constant love and support.  We have not received a travel itinerary yet but have been told he will return later this week. We are now being asked "What can we do to help?" Our answer is this... Support Cayden and know that he is one of the toughest, hard working kids around, that he didn't quit, not for one second. Love him, support him and help him grow as he enters the next stage of his life.  Thank you all so much, Amy

Monday, June 5, 2017

Candlelight Dinners and Beanies in "Winter"

What a week, officially hit 8 months on mission today and I feel as though it is flying by.

It was a very successful week. We had 7 baptisms on Sunday, and I accomplished one of my mission goals, to baptize a family! We have been teaching them for about a month, it was very nice to see them all get baptized!
Mama Shiela,  Baba (*See story below), their youngest son Roderick, their Grandson Bradley, their oldest daughter Tunia Tunia's son- Thabo (Tah-boh) and a girl down the street named Isabel.
The Baba (father) of the family we baptized is named Meeting. We asked why he was named that, and he said because when he was born, the family had a meeting for his birth, so they named him meeting. This is how they name their children in Zimbabwe. 

We were at the families house, the ones we just baptized, and the mama was holding a baby and the baby just started puffing (farting). Elder Condie and I just started busting up, and the mama goes "this baby is so naughty! Naughty naughty naughty!"

All the success we are having is from the area that we weren't baptizing from originally. It's pretty sweet. Proof that even "bad" areas just need someone to not think they are bad and they will baptize.

A mini Combi.

 Jefrey, one of our recent converts, has been reading the Book of Mormon. Well he got to the part that talks about the "whore of the earth" (1st Nephi 22). And he asks, "So is it talking about a b****?" in the most innocent way ever. People here swear like that but don't understand that they are swear words. Hahah So me and Elder Condie both laughed and explained to him what it was! 

Our recent convert, Jefrey! He loves us missionaries and says that he wants us to never leave hahaha. Says he prays that me and Condie will stay in Kadoma our whole mission.

Got my new tie, my bead Zimbabwe tie! 

Rimuka. The poorest place I have been. No kids wear underwear cause they can't afford it. 

 A child pooping in a bucket, cause that is all they have.

A typical house in Rimuka.

Had a dinner at a nice restaurant, it was super good! I got a steak for 7 bucks and potato mash (mashed potatoes). An older white guy owns it. 

 Wayne, the boy in pink, is wearing a girl's shirt cause that is all they have.

 We were going to see a family, and a random lady stopped us in the road. She begged and begged for us to go teach her. I kind of said we had to go see a family, and she kept saying please right now see me. So I finally gave in and said sure we will teach you. Well, while we were walking to her house, the lady opened up to me about all these problems in her life. My companion was about 20 feet behind me playing with children, and the lady just started going off about her life and problems. She said she had gone to many other churches and they all rejected her, so she prayed and found us. But she started telling me about her 2 children and how they were starving, and then went into some very very deep issues she was having in her life. I didn't know what to do, I haven't had anyone open up like this to me on mission before. So i just listened to her vent for 20 minutes. I felt very bad for her, she was going through tough things and I didn't know how to help. So I just told her to try her best to help her children, and to pray like crazy and have faith and it would work out! I'm not sure what will happen with her, but we will see!

(Lots of photos of this little one but they are just too cute not to share!)

Babies often ride on the backs of the women. 

A random bed by the side of the road.

The people wear beanies cause when it isn't burning outside, they think it is super cold and everyone wears thick coats and beanies. When the temperature drops a few degrees everyone freaks out. 

In Rimuka too, all the kids are sick, it's so poor, they all have runny noses and are coughing. I saw a kid who's eyes had puss coming out and were completely swollen shut and he was just playing normally. If a kid had that in America he would be taken to the hospital immediately.  

A HUGE roach.

   I am starting the 3rd book of Nephi, I am almost done with the Book of Mormon for the second time on my mission. It's really good and I love reading from it so much. Also started the books about Christ in the Bible; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John etc. I love reading about the Savior so much! Things with Elder Condie are good, we are making good progress. There will always be  frustrations on a mission, but you learn to improve and get better!

Last thing, is The Church shut down pouch, the mailing system, so now I can't send letters :(

Love you all, Elder Cazier

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

We Bought a Blender and Ran into a Zombie Girl

I gave this little girl the Hot Wheels car a while back and she carries that car with her everywhere. Her family is super poor and she just loves her new car.

Week one done of this transfer. The area is great and we have a good amount of progressing investigators which is always nice. It's always good to feel rewarded for your hard work!

This week Elder Condie and I bought a blender and we are back to trying to build a hammock. If you remember the last hammock in our yard didn't go so well. haha

We were teaching an investigator, Jefery, in the park, and we heard yelling and swearing down the road. We then see about 12 young adult men carrying one guy into the park towards the little pond in the middle. They were making a ton of noise so I had to ask what they were doing with the guy. They said hadn't bathed in 2 weeks, so they were forcing him to bathe. They were yelling, 
"He hasn't bathed in two weeks! He lives right next to water but he refuses cause he's scared of crocodiles. He needs to take a bath!"
So they carried him to the edge and just started getting him wet (with nasty pond water) and were scrubbing him. It was pretty funny to see! 

 People are always selling DVD's for super cheap on the side of the road. They are often movies that aren't even out of the theater yet! Found someone selling these movies on the street, I didn't know that Magic Mike was a family movie?! haha

We had district meeting in this gazebo thing.   

 Love this picture of me and Elder Mhlungu!

Had to take a picture with a guy wearing a Seattle Seahawks jersey. He couldn't speak English and had no idea what the Seahawks are, maybe I can make it on to the Seahwaks fan page??? Hahaha Mel ;)

 We went to the bush to find a recent convert, and we felt like we should visit an old investigator who had just fallen off the face of the planet. So we went to his house, (or one room shack) and knocked on the door. Then out of the bush walks a younger girl, in her 20's. She walked around very creepily with her arms kind of like the young girl in the King Kong movie with Jack Black (the cannibal little girl). So she walks and stands about 7 feet from us and stares at us. We asked her if Nathan was home, and she didn't respond, nor move. So then the Branch missionary, Prince, spoke Shona to her, and again she didn't respond or move. Then there was this super awkward pause for about ten seconds where no one said anything and she didn't move. So I just held out a restoration pamphlet to her, she looked down at it, stared at it for a few seconds, then took it. We quickly walked away cause it was the creepiest scenario I have had as a missionary yet. We walked away very quickly and looked back just to see her staring at us all the way until we disappeared into the bush. I don't know what was wrong with her, but she seemed possessed. Even our branch missionary was freaking out and saying he had never seen a person act like that in his life. Super creepy. 

People just randomly burn garbage by the side of the road.

African Churches

Street signs. One is Packiepa or something like that. It means "life is tough"

Yes...this is a sign marking a bus stop.

   I had my first baptism interview as a District Leader, it brought me back to the time when I waited for Ryanne to get done with her interview! Only here it is a little different. We went to the boy's house, and his mom had locked him inside the gate, so he couldn't get out, so I interviewed him through a fence. Kind of felt like I was interviewing a prisoner hahah.

This little boy did NOT like seeing us white men... he was scared.

 Priesthood donut competition Elder Condie eating a donut... Me I'm trying to avoid breads to see if that will help my stomach issues.

*From Cayden's Companion Elder Condie*
"We were sitting in an investigator's home playing Monopoly with 3 kids that are supposed to be baptized next week. We were having a good time, until these evil, black, fanged crickets that were like... 2 feet (inches) long started flying around the house after crawling in under the door. They were really dumb, and kept flying towards the lights (like all bugs do) but when they ran into the bulbs they bounced off with a very audible "PING" and came hurtling towards the ground (and our heads) at speeds usually reserved for F-22s. The game was interrupted for a few minutes, and I actually heard a Zimbabwean squeal at the sight of a bug, until the crickets were thoroughly squished. Elder Cazier ended up winning the game, but I was unnerved for the rest of the night."

The difference between our filtered water and unfiltered water. (in our new blender)

   Last thing, mamas here go by their child's name with Mai (my) in front. So for example, my moms name would be Mai Anderson. I don't know why they do that, but it's just culture!

So my stomach has been the same old same. But I am trying my best to keep a smile :) Love you all, Elder Cazier